Hundreds of Direct Air
customers on the Grand Strand are stuck with plane tickets they can't use.
Tuesday, the Myrtle Beach-based charter airline abruptly canceled all of its flights until mid-May, because of problems paying fuel bills.
Ron and Ellie McCue of Myrtle Beach are among those in a bind over the unused tickets. They shelled out nearly $400 for two Direct Air tickets to fly to Worcester, Massachusetts on May 31st. That's after the date when the airline has said it would resume flights.
"So we don't know if we should take a chance and wait until May 15th to see if they're going to keep flying or buy new tickets now on another airline before the price goes up too much and we can't afford to go up," said Ellie McCue.
Adding to the uncertainty is information included in a consumer fact sheet from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation.
he airline is supposed to have an escrow account to make refunds to passengers. The DOT says it is now "investigating the airline's handling of that escrow account."
Consumers may request a refund from Direct Air by writing to the company at:
1600 Oak St.
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Copies of the request should be sent to the airline's escrow depository bank:
Valley National Bank
1455 Valley Rd.
Wayne, NJ 04740
Direct Air customers can also call 855-888-8090 for help getting their money back. The airline is telling customers to contact their credit card companies for refunds.
But to do that, the DOT says customers will probably need a copy of their credit card statement and a copy of the airline ticket or itinerary.
As for those customers who bought tickets with a debit card, the DOT says some debit card issuers may provide refunds, but the cards don't have the same kind of federal protections as credit cards.
With all those questions and requirements, the McCues doubt they'll ever get their money back. "No, because if they're in this much financial trouble now and if they have to reimburse people that are already bought tickets and have had to cancel, they're not going to have any money later on to pay us," McCue said.